What is this white lump on my face?


He has a small white bump on his face. What is it? There are many reasons why people have white bumps on their skin. Most of them are simple, like clogged pores . Others, like skin cancer , can be more difficult and dangerous.

This article looks at the common and uncommon causes of white bumps on the face and other skin areas, as well as how to identify them and how to get rid of them.

Illustration by Emily Roberts, Get Drug Information


Milia are hard, convex, white bumps that look like grains of sand stuck under the skin. Although they are usually small (only 1 to 2 millimeters in diameter), some can be larger.

Milia are most commonly found around the eyes, cheeks, nose, and forehead, but they can appear anywhere on the face.

DermNet / CC BY-NC-ND

These lumps occur when a plug of oil and dead skin cells filled with keratin (the protein that makes up skin, hair, and nails) gets trapped just below the skin's surface. The white bump you see is a cork that shows through a thin layer of skin.

Miles are incredibly common. If you have a small white bump on your face, it is likely milium (the only term for milia).

Fortunately, milia are completely harmless.

Treatment options

There is no medical reason to treat milia. In fact, most of them will go away on their own, albeit slowly. If you want to speed up the process, there are many treatment options for milia.

Over-the-counter exfoliating products and hand extracts are good first choices.

Topical retinoids are also commonly prescribed to treat these white bumps.

Clogged pores

Clogged pores, also known as comedones , are another cause of facial bumps.

They are small, usually white or flesh-colored, and give the skin a rough and uneven appearance. The white color you see is the oil plug trapped inside the pore.

DermNet / CC BY-NC-ND

Comedones are actually a non-inflamed type of acne . Like milia, they are extremely common, especially in people with oily skin.

Comedones aren't serious, but they can sometimes progress to larger, inflamed pimples . They can be bothersome enough that you probably want to treat them.

Treatment options

Mild comedonal acne can be treated with over-the-counter acne treatments that contain salicylic acid or benzoyl peroxide.

If over-the-counter products don't work as expected, see your doctor or dermatologist. They can help you develop a treatment plan for comedonic acne.

Sebaceous hyperplasia

Sebaceous gland hyperplasia may look like acne, but it is actually an overgrown sebaceous (fat) gland .

These glands are found in the deepest layers of the skin and are responsible for the production of oil (technically called sebum ) that keeps the skin moist and lubricated.

DermNet NZ

When the sebaceous glands enlarge, they rise to the surface of the skin and create a white, yellowish, or flesh-colored bump. The buds can be soft or hard.

Sebaceous gland hyperplasia often occurs after age 40. Although it may look like a milia at times, you can easily tell the difference: the bumps of sebaceous hyperplasia have a depressed area in the middle, but the milia does not.

However, this type of defect can be very similar to basal cell skin cancer and is difficult to distinguish.

Ask your doctor to examine your skin to make sure it is correctly diagnosed.

Treatment options

Since sebaceous hyperplasia is harmless, there is no good reason to treat it.

But if the bumps bother you, they can be treated with prescription drugs and / or in-office procedures, such as:

  • Laser treatment
  • Cryotherapy (cryosurgery), which uses liquid nitrogen to freeze tissue for removal.

Your healthcare professional can recommend the best treatment for you.

Sebaceous cysts

Sebaceous cysts are white, yellow, or soft, flesh-colored bumps under the skin. They often appear on the face, neck, or scalp, but can also develop on the shoulders or back.

These cysts look like small sacs under the surface of the skin that are filled with keratin or oil. They form around the sebaceous gland when its opening is blocked.

Stephen Fruitsmaak / Wikimedia Commons

Unlike sebaceous hyperplasia, in which the bumps are firmly attached to the skin, sebaceous cysts move freely when pressed on them, almost as if there is a small water balloon under the skin's surface.

Small sebaceous cysts generally do not hurt unless they are infected. Larger cysts can cause pressure or pain.

Treatment options

Sebaceous cysts often go away on their own, but your healthcare professional may also treat them for cosmetic reasons, infection, or pain.

Treatment depends on the cyst. Some small cysts can be treated with steroid injections, while others may need to be drained or surgically removed.

Seborrheic keratosis

Seborrheic keratosis is another common and harmless type of skin defect. These growths start out as a small bump, but can grow to more than an inch in diameter.

Seborrheic keratosis is usually brown in color, but can sometimes be white or flesh-colored, especially in the early stages. They can appear on the face and almost any other part of the body.

DermNet / CC BY-NC-ND

The key determining factor here is that seborrheic keratosis looks like a bead of wax or a bead of clay stuck to the skin. It also appears that they can be removed.

These benign skin lesions are more common in middle-aged and older people. In young people, seborrheic keratosis occurs very rarely.

Treatment options

Seborrheic keratosis is harmless, but your healthcare provider can remove it if it bothers you.

Common removal methods include:

  • Cryotherapy
  • Electrosurgery and scraping, in which a doctor uses an electrical current to kill a growth before scraping it off the skin.

Actinic keratosis

Actinic keratoses develop due to damage caused by UV rays. Therefore, they are mainly found on exposed areas of the skin, including the face, ears, neck, shoulders, scalp, and the back of the hands.

These types of neoplasms are more common with age.

DermNet / CC BY-NC-ND

Actinic keratosis often begins as a rough, scaly patch on the skin. As they develop, they turn into hard, hard bumps on the skin. They can be white, red, brown, or flesh-colored.

Actinic keratoses are considered precancerous lesions because they can turn into skin cancer if left untreated. If your white lump is crusted or scaly, see your doctor as soon as possible.

Treatment options

Actinic keratosis can be successfully treated or removed with topical medications or medical procedures.

A dermatologist may be needed to remove isolated lesions with treatments such as:

  • Chemical peel
  • Laser surgery
  • Cryosurgery

If you have multiple or widespread lesions, medicated creams or gels may be prescribed.

Photodynamic therapy may be recommended for extensive lesions of the face or scalp. It is the use of a drug sensitive to light and exposure to light, usually a laser, to destroy affected skin cells.

Skin cancer

One of the most serious causes of white bumps on the skin is skin cancer. Basal cell skin cancer is less common than other causes, but it can appear on the skin as a pearly white bump. The buds can also be pink, red, brown, or flesh-colored.

Basal cell carcinoma of the skin may also appear as a rough scaly patch or an ulcer that does not heal.

Nodular basal cell carcinoma. DermNet / CC BY-NC-ND

Like actinic keratosis, basal cell skin cancer is caused by too much sun exposure. Daily use of sunscreen reduces the risk of developing sunscreen.

Treatment options

Basal cell skin cancer grows slowly and responds well to treatment, especially at an early stage. The most common treatment is surgical removal, but your healthcare provider may recommend radiation therapy, cryotherapy, or even immunotherapy or chemotherapy.


Xanthelasma causes irregular white to yellow bumps on the eyelids or around the eyes. Milia are also common around the eyes, but they are dome-shaped.

People with xanthelasma often have high blood cholesterol levels. The bumps are actually made up of cholesterol deposits under the skin and are sometimes called cholesterol bumps because of this.

DermNet / CC BY-NC-ND

Xanthelasma is not very common, but it does not go away on its own.

Treatment options

Xanthelasma is not harmful, but you can treat it for cosmetic reasons.

These irregularities can be eliminated with:

  • Operation
  • Laser treatment
  • Cryotherapy

When to call your healthcare provider

There are other reasons for the appearance of white bumps on the skin. While they are not as common as the blemishes mentioned above, they can be more serious.

Contact your healthcare professional and / or dermatologist if the lump (s):

  • Appeared very quickly
  • Covers a large area of your skin
  • They are spreading or getting bigger
  • Itching, bleeding, or pain
  • I've been there for a long time and I'm not recovering

Also contact your doctor if:

  • You are not sure what these irregularities are.
  • You know what bumps are, but you just need help treating them

Once you know exactly what causes the white bumps on your skin, you can start treating them.


White bumps on the skin can be caused by a variety of causes. These are most likely clogged pores or milia, many of which do not require treatment. However, others may be cause for concern.

Even if your lump (s) perfectly fit one of the descriptions given here, it is best to contact your healthcare provider for the correct diagnosis if any of the items in the list above match Their case.

They'd rather see you behind something harmless than miss out on catching something troublesome ASAP.

If it turns out to be skin cancer, finding it early means that it will probably be easier to cure.

Get the word of drug information

Your skin changes with age, sun exposure, etc. While some changes are to be expected, any change in your body can be worrisome, if not undesirable.

Remember, in most cases of white cones, there is no cause for concern. If your healthcare provider assesses your skin condition and thinks treatment is not medically necessary, great. But if the white bumps bother you for cosmetic reasons, report it and ask what options you have.

Part of your overall wellness is wellness. There may be some treatments that can help you get rid of the lumps that you would not like to have.

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